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Centrelink debt nightmare continues

4 January 2017
Andrew Wilkie MP
Andrew Wilkie MP, Independent Member for Denison

The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, again called on the Government to put a halt to Centrelink’s flawed debt recovery process.

“I’ve now received over a hundred complaints from all around the country from people who have recounted deeply disturbing stories about Centrelink’s new debt recovery process,” Mr Wilkie said. “The Government has terrified countless people, ruined the Christmases of many and even driven some people to contemplate taking their own lives.

“This crude data-matching process is spitting out numerous incorrect debt notices. You don’t have to be a genius to tell that taking someone’s yearly income and dividing by 26 is not always going to produce accurate results if only because people’s circumstances change.

“The Minister should have personally intervened and put a stop to this program as soon as these issues were discovered. But instead he is in the media claiming that the process is working fine when it obviously isn’t. 

“Moreover it’s deeply misleading to claim that the program is a success because of the relatively low complaint rate, when this doesn’t take into account the number of disputes or reviews that have been lodged. When questioned about the number of disputes, the Minister refused to answer.

“I’m appalled by all this, appalled that the Government has been aware of the problem for many weeks and taken no action and appalled that the Minister is claiming that there are no problems.”

Mr Wilkie has written to the Commonwealth Ombudsman asking him to investigate the matter.

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